June 24, 2019 // Archive

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24 Jun

In 2012, Sue Natali arrived in Duvanny Yar, Siberia, for the first time. Then a postdoctoral research fellow studying the effects of thawing permafrost due to climate change, she had seen photos of this site many times. Rapid thawing at Duvanny Yar had caused a massive ground collapse – a “mega slump” – like a giant sinkhole in the middle of the Siberian tundra. But nothing had prepared her for seeing it in person.

As you walk along you see what look like logs poking out the permafrost. But they aren’t logs, they are the bones of mammoths and other Pleistocene animals – Sue Natali

“It was incredible, really incredible”, she recalls while speaking to me from The Woods Hole Research Center, Massachusetts, where she is an associate scientist. “I still get chills when I think about it… I just couldn’t believe the magnitude: collapsing cliffs the size of multi-storey buildings … and as you walk along you see what look like logs poking out the permafrost. But they aren’t logs, they are the bones of mammoths and other Pleistocene animals.”

What Natali describes is the visible, dramatic effects of a rapidly warming Arctic. The permafrost – up until now, permanently frozen land and soil – is thawing out, and revealing its hidden secrets. Alongside Pleistocene fossils are massive carbon and methane emissions, toxic mercury, and ancient diseases.

The organic-rich permafrost holds an estimated 1,500 billion tonnes of carbon. “That’s about twice as much carbon in the atmosphere, and three times as much carbon than that stored in all the world’s forests”, says Natali. She explains that between 30% and 70% of the permafrost may melt before 2100, depending on how effectively we respond to climate change. “The 70% is business as usual, if we continue to burn fossil fuels at our current rate, and 30% is if we vastly reduce our fossil fuel emissions… Of the 30-70% that thaws, the carbon locked up in organic matter will begin to be broken down by microbes, they use it as fuel or energy, and they release it as CO2 or methane.”

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Around 10% of the carbon that does defrost will probably be released as CO2, amounting to 130-150 billion tonnes. That is equivalent to the current rate of total US emissions, every year until 2100. Melting permafrost effectively introduces a new country at number two on the highest emitters list, and one that isn’t accounted for in current IPCC models. “People talk about a carbon bomb,” says Natali. “In geological timescales this is not a slow release. It is a pool of carbon that is locked away and is not accounted for in the carbon budget to keep rises below two degrees (Celsius).”

The Northern Hemisphere winter of 2018/2019 was dominated by headlines of the “polar vortex”, as temperatures plummeted unusually far south into North America. In South Bend, Indiana, it reached -29C in January 2019, almost twice as low as the city’s previous record set in 1936. What such stories masked, however, was that the opposite was happening in the far North, beyond the Arctic circle. January 2019 also saw Arctic sea ice average just 13.56 million square kilometres (5.24 million square miles), some 860,000 square kilometres (332,000 square miles) below the 1981 to 2010 long-term average, and only slightly above the record low reached in January 2018.

In November, when temperatures should have been -25C, a temperature of 1.2C above freezing was recorded at the North Pole. The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world (in part due to the loss of solar reflectivity).

“We are seeing a big increase in the thaw of permafrost”, confirms Emily Osborne, program manager for the Arctic Research Program, NOAA, and editor of the Arctic Report Card, an annual peer-reviewed environmental study of the Arctic. As a direct result of rising air temperatures, she says, the permafrost is thawing and “the landscape is physically crumbling as a result… things are changing so fast, and in ways that researchers hadn’t even anticipated.”

The headline of the 2017 Arctic Report Card pulled no punches: “Arctic shows no sign of returning to a reliably frozen region”. One paper co-authored by Hanne Christiansen, professor and vice dean of education at University Centre Svalbard, Norway, studied permafrost temperatures at a depth of 20 metres (that’s 65ft, far enough down not to be affected by short-term seasonal changes) and found temperatures had risen by up to 0.7C since 2000. Christiansen, who is also president of the International Permafrost Association, tells me, “temperatures are increasing inside the permafrost at relatively high speed… then, of course, what was permanently frozen before can become released.” In 2016, the autumn temperatures in Svalbard remained above zero throughout November, “the first time this has happened in the records that we have, going back to 1898”, says Christiansen. “Then large amounts of rain came – the precipitation here is typically snow… we had mudslides crossing roads for 100s of metres… we had to evacuate some parts of the population.”

In some places in the Alaskan Arctic, you fly over a swiss cheese of land and lakes formed by ground collapse – Sue Natali

The rapid change in North American permafrost is equally alarming. “In some places in the Alaskan Arctic, you fly over a swiss cheese of land and lakes formed by ground collapse,” says Natali, whose fieldwork has moved from Siberia to Alaska. “Water that was close to the surface now becomes a pond.” Many of these ponds are bubbling with methane, as microbes suddenly find themselves with a feast of ancient organic matter to munch on, releasing methane as a by-product. “We often walk across the lakes because it’s so shallow and it’s like you’re in a hot tub in some places, there is so much bubbling,” says Natali.

But methane and CO2 are not the only things being released from the once frozen ground. In the summer of 2016, a group of nomadic reindeer herders began falling sick from a mysterious illness. Rumours began circling of the “Siberian plague”, last seen in the region in 1941. When a young boy and 2,500 reindeer died, the disease was identified: anthrax. Its origin was a defrosting reindeer carcass, a victim of an anthrax outbreak 75 years previously. The 2018 Arctic report card speculates that, “diseases like the Spanish flu, smallpox or the plague that have been wiped out might be frozen in the permafrost.” A French study in 2014 took a 30,000 year-old virus frozen within permafrost, and warmed it back up in the lab. It promptly came back to life, 300 centuries later. (To read more, see BBC Earth’s piece on the diseases hidden in ice.)

Adding to this apocalyptic vision, in 2016 the Doomsday Vault – a sub-permafrost facility in Arctic Norway, which safeguards millions of crop seeds for perpetuity – was breached with meltwater. And listed amongst the membership of The Global Terrestrial Network for Permafrost, is Swedish Nuclear Waste Management who presumably also rely on a permanently frozen permafrost (when BBC Future approached them for comment on this point, they did not respond).

Long-preserved human archaeology may also be emerging, but just as quickly lost. A frozen Palaeo-Eskimo site in Greenland, preserved for some 4,000 years, is at risk of being washed away. This is just one of an estimated 180,000 archaeological sites preserved in the permafrost, often with soft tissues and clothing that uniquely remain intact but would rot quickly if exposed. Adam Markham, of the Union of Concerned Scientists has said, “with rapid, human-caused climate change, many sites or the artefacts they contain, will be lost before they have been discovered.”

More modern (and unwanted) human detritus will, however, not rot away: marine microplastics. Due to circular global marine currents, much plastic waste ends up in the Arctic, where it becomes frozen in sea ice or permafrost. A recent study of marine micro-particles demonstrated that concentrations were higher in the Arctic Basin than all other ocean basins in the world. Microplastic concentrations in the Greenland Sea doubled between 2004 and 2015. “Scientists are finding that those microplastics are accumulating across the entire ocean and being dumped into the Arctic”, explains Osborne. “This is something we didn’t [previously] realise was a problem. What scientists are trying to find out now is the composition of these microplastics, what sort of fish are feeding on these… and whether we are essentially eating microplastics through eating these fish.”

Mercury is also entering the food chain, thanks to thawing permafrost. The Arctic is home to the most mercury on the planet. The US Geological Survey estimates there’s a total of 1,656,000 tonnes of mercury trapped in polar ice and permafrost: roughly twice the global amount in all other soils, oceans, and atmosphere. Natali explains that, “mercury often binds up with organic material in places where you have high organic matter content… organism’s bodies don’t remove it, so it bio-accumulates up the food web. Permafrost is almost the perfect storm – you have a lot of mercury in permafrost, it is released into wetland systems, those are the right environment for organisms to take them up, and then [it] heads up the food web. That’s a concern for wildlife, people, and the commercial fishing industry.”

Are there some positives of a thawing Arctic? Could a greener Arctic start to see more trees and vegetation take root, sequestering more carbon and offering new grazing land for animals? Osborne agrees that “the Arctic is greening”. But she adds that studies of animal populations actually suggest that, “warmer temperatures also increase the prevalence of viruses and disease, so we’re seeing a lot more caribou and reindeer becoming more sickly as a result of this warming climate… it is just not an environment that is suited to thrive at these warmer temperatures.” Natali also says that many areas are experiencing “Tundra browning”: the higher temperatures lead surface water to evaporate into the atmosphere, causing plants to die off. Other areas are experiencing sudden flooding due to the ground collapsing. “It’s not happening in 2100 or 2050, it’s now”, says Natali. “You hear people say ‘we used to pick blueberries over there’, and you look over there and it’s a wetland.”

Natali doesn’t want to end the conversation on a downer. There is a lot we can do, she says. The fate of the Arctic is not a foregone conclusion: “The actions taken by the international community will have a substantial impact on just how much carbon will be released and how much of the permafrost will thaw. We need to keep as much of the permafrost as we can frozen. And we do have some control of that.” Our emissions cannot remain “business as usual”. The Arctic depends on it. And we depend on the Arctic.

Tim Smedley is a sustainability writer, based in the UK. His first book is Clearing the Air: The Beginning and the End of Air Pollution. Join more than one million Future fans by liking us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter or Instagram.

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24 Jun

Colour Pop Roosevelt Blush Stix ($8.00 for 0.33 oz.) is a medium-dark, coppery brown with warm undertones and a satin finish. It wasn’t quite as dewy in its finish compared to most shades in the range, but it still had a subtle luminosity that was more than matte. The texture was lightweight, emollient without being tacky, and spreadable, which made for easy blending and application that worked just as well over bare skin as it did atop foundation. It had opaque color coverage when applied directly from the tube, but if sheerer or more buildable application is preferred, using fingertips or brushes did the trick. The color lasted well for eight and a half hours on me before I noticed fading/subtle movement of the product on my skin.

  • Clinique Sunkissed Pop (LE, ) is more shimmery, lighter, warmer (90% similar).
  • Flower Beauty Cinnamon (P, $9.99) is lighter (90% similar).
  • Laura Mercier Earth (LE, $24.00) is more shimmery, lighter, warmer (90% similar).
  • NARS Silvana (P, $30.00) is more shimmery, lighter, warmer (90% similar).
  • Makeup Geek Infatuation (P, $10.00) is more shimmery, warmer, less glossy (90% similar).
  • Becca Sweet Pea (P, $32.00) is more shimmery, lighter (90% similar).
  • Bite Beauty Honeywheat (P, $24.00) is warmer (85% similar).
  • By Terry Tropical Sunset #6 (LE, ) is more shimmery, warmer, less glossy (85% similar).
  • MAC Liberating (LE, $24.00) is more shimmery, lighter, warmer (85% similar).
  • MAC Semi-Sweet (LE, ) is more shimmery, more muted, warmer (85% similar).

Formula Overview

$8.00/0.33 oz. – $24.24 Per Ounce

The formula is supposed to “blend effortlessly” with a “natural, skin-like finish” that can be layered or applied on bare skin. The brand recommends applyling directly from the tube for heavier coverage and using a brush to pick up product for less coverage, though the coverage “easily builds colour to your heart’s desire.” They dry down to a semi-set finish–lightly dewy, definitely “natural, skin-like” in appearance, but not overly tacky or really wet-looking. I haven’t found that they migrate or move around much, so the formula is still longer-wearing at seven to nine hours with minimal movement. They have applied well and worn well over foundation thus far, too. They are not transfer-proof but are transfer-resistant; they won’t smear around with an inadvertent touch but aren’t fully locked down.

The pigmentation varied a bit from shade to shade, but most shades were semi-opaque to fully opaque when applied directly from the tube in one “swipe” motion, though I think mimicking this on cheeks isn’t quite as easily done as compared to my arm. I preferred picking up product on my fingertip, patting on the apple of my cheek and diffusing upward and outward, then using a clean fingertip to diffuse and soften the edges as needed. I appreciated that even the deeper hues didn’t seem to “sink” into my pores and were as easy to apply and blend out as very light, more my-skin-but-better (literally, my skin!) hues. I would describe the formula was buildable from semi-sheer to medium with semi-opaque coverage possible, but there’s enough slip in the formula that it starts to sheer out noticeably even when applied more heavily.

The consistency was lightly emollient, lightweight, and thin with good spreadability and movement; it didn’t lift up base products but still worked well over bare skin. I didn’t experience it lifting up or creating patchiness over time on top of foundation, even when I set the foundation initially, but I would recommend (same as I would for most cream-based cheek formulas!) to pair with a less-matte foundation for optimal results (the dewy finish plays well with a more skin-like base).

Oh, the caps have the names of the products, but the rest of the tube doesn’t, so if you have more than one open, take care in getting the right lid back on!

Browse all of our Colour Pop Blush Stix swatches.

Ingredients

Phenylpropyldimethylsiloxysilicate, Caprylyl Methicone, Phenyl Trimethicone, Paraffin, Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Vp/Hexadecene Copolymer, Ceresin, Hydrated Silica, Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax, Synthetic Beeswax, Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Cetyl Peg/Ppg-10/1 Dimethicone, Lauryl Laurate, Stearic Acid, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Microcrystalline Wax, Silica, Tocopherol, Potassium Sorbate, Water, Hexylene Glycol. May Contain: Blue 1 Lake (CI 42090), Carmine (CI 75470), Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499), Mica (CI 77019), Red 6 (CI 15850), Red 7 Lake (CI 15850), Red 27 Lake (CI 45410), Red 28 Lake (CI 45410), Red 40 Lake (CI 16035), Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Yellow 5 Lake (CI 19140), Yellow 6 Lake (CI 15985), Yellow 10 Lake (CI 47005).

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24 Jun

If you’re looking for a new, flavor-packed marinade for grilled chicken, give this fragrant Indian marinade a try! Made with curry powder, turmeric, coriander, garlic, lemon, and cilantro, it infuses grilled chicken skewers with lots of rich, warm, complex flavor. Add a cool, refreshing cucumber raita (yogurt sauce) to round out the meal (250 calories or 3 WW points)!

In the spring and summertime, I’m outside almost every night, grilling chicken with lemon herb marinade, Asian soy ginger marinade, Caribbean marinade, or making Mediterranean grilled shrimp…even steak tips. And now I’m adding a new marinade recipe to the list—a flavorful and fragrant Indian marinade for chicken. I like to turn them into grilled chicken skewers, but the marinade works well for any type of chicken or cooking method.

The Indian marinade is straightforward: whisk together curry powder, ground turmeric, ground coriander, garlic, lemon juice, fresh cilantro, salt, pepper, and olive oil. The lemon works to tenderize the meat, while the garlic, herbs, and spices infuse the chicken with warm, earthy, complex flavor. Curry powder, after all, is typically a blend of coriander, turmeric, cumin, fenugreek, chili peppers, and sometimes ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and more. The combination of all of these fragrant spices creates a richness and depth of flavor that you just couldn’t get with one or two spices alone.

Combine the marinade with chicken breast tenderloins (or whole chicken breasts that you cut into thin strips) and let them marinate for at least an hour and up to 24 hours. You can thread the chicken on metal or wooden skewers—or skip them altogether if you don’t have any skewers— and grill until the chicken is cooked through and has a crisp, golden brown char from the grill. Remember that if you plan to use wooden skewers, they need to be soaked in water for 30 minutes before using.

As a cool, creamy complement to the flavorful Indian marinade, I like to make an easy cucumber raita—an Indian yogurt sauce—to serve alongside them. The mix of plain whole-milk yogurt, finely chopped cucumber, cilantro, garlic, salt, and a pinch of cayenne, adds the perfect amount of tang and freshness to our Indian chicken skewers.

Enjoy!

Print

Grilled Chicken Skewers with Indian Marinade and Cucumber Raita

  • Author: Andie Mitchell
  • Prep Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Poultry
  • Method: Grilling
  • Cuisine: Indian

Scale

Ingredients

For the cucumber raita:
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1/3 of a medium cucumber, peeled and finely chopped
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro leaves
1 garlic clove, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
Pinch salt
Pinch freshly ground black pepper

For the grilled chicken skewers:
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons curry powder
½ teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon coriander
½ teaspoon salt
Pinch fresh ground black pepper
1 ¼ pounds chicken breast tenderloins

Instructions

In a gallon-sized resealable plastic bag, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, cilantro, garlic, curry powder, turmeric, coriander, salt, and pepper. Add the chicken, press as much air out of the bag as you can, and seal it. Turn the bag in your hands, massaging the marinade into the chicken and making sure that all of the pieces are covered. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours. **If you plan to use wooden skewers, soak them in water for 30 minutes before using.

Make the raita. Blot the chopped cucumber with paper towels to remove excess moisture, then place the cucumber in a small bowl. Add the yogurt, cilantro, garlic, salt, and pepper. Optional: add a pinch of cayenne for a touch of heat. Stir, cover, and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Preheat your gas grill with all burners on high and close the lid. When the grill is hot (after about 15 minutes), turn the 2 burners closest to the front to low, keeping the back burner on high. Remove the chicken from the bag and thread the tenderloins on the skewers (dividing the chicken evenly among the skewers). Arrange the skewers on the grates over the low heat burners. Cover and cook until the underside of the chicken is just beginning to develop light grill marks, about 6 minutes. Flip the chicken, cover, and continue to cook until the chicken is firm to touch, about 6 minutes longer. To get a nice char on the chicken, now move the chicken to the part of the grill over high flames and cook uncovered until each side has solid grill marks, 5 to 6 minutes, flipping halfway. The chicken should be completely firm to the touch and register 160 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer. Transfer the skewers to a plate, tent with foil, and let rest for 5 minutes before serving alongside the cucumber raita.

Notes

Nutrition for 1 serving grilled chicken with cucumber raita (1/4 of the chicken and yogurt sauce): 3 WW Freestyle points

Nutrition for 1 serving of chicken *without* cucumber raita: 1 WW Freestyle point //
215 calories, 7g fat, 1g sat fat, 103mg cholesterol, 356mg sodium, 2g carbs, 0g fiber, 32g protein

Nutrition

  • Calories: 250
  • Sugar: 3g
  • Sodium: 384mg
  • Fat: 9g
  • Saturated Fat: 3g
  • Carbohydrates: 4g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Protein: 34g
  • Cholesterol: 110mg

Keywords: Indian marinade, grilled chicken, curry chicken

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24 Jun


STANFORD, Calif. – We are living in anxious times these days, and that’s taking its toll on teens and young adults. 

More than six out of 10 college students report having “overwhelming anxiety.” Some so much they have difficulty functioning. 

As a result, an increasing number of students are seeking out treatment for mental health.     

Brad Waldo knew that he was supposed to be one of the lucky ones. 

In high school, Waldo had a 4.0 grade point average, was on the football team and was popular. 

But he was also struggling. 

“For years, I was addicted to heroin and Xanax,” Waldo said.   

Waldo’s addiction was rooted in anxiety and depression. And he’s not alone in feeling pressure. Sixty percent of college students suffer from anxiety or psychological distress. 

“It was never even a discussion if I would go to college or not. And then there’s this other social stress. There’s always eyes on you for social media,” Waldo said.

Psychologist Jennifer MacLeamy, executive director, of Newport Academy, said it’s hard to separate everyday stress from real mental illness in teenagers and young adults. 

“And really, loneliness and isolation is one of the things that we’re seeing more and more in both teens and young adults,” MacLeamy said.   

But parents play an important role.

“For parents, I would be aware of certain warning signs, like withdrawal, changes in behavior from before — particularly around friends and school,” MacLeamy said.   

“I was at Newport Academy for 70 days. I did outpatient therapy for a year, and then I’ve been engaged in therapy for the last eight years,” Waldo said.   
       
Waldo is now helping others who are struggling.   

“It can be pretty remarkable the change that people make. I think of it, kind of, as almost an unveiling in returning back to who they really have the capacity to be,” MacLeamy said.  
 
Seeking help is the first step. 

In 2015, New York became the first state to require mental health education in public schools. 

Currently, more than 44 million American adults have a mental health illness.

Copyright 2019 by Ivanhoe Newswire – All rights reserved.

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24 Jun

The Hypersomnia Foundation, a nonprofit patient advocacy group dedicated to improving the lives of people with idiopathic hypersomnia and other rare sleep disorders, will be holding a Hypersomnia Educational Meeting in Seattle, WA on June 29, 2019.

This June 29 event, the first-ever gathering hosted by the Hypersomnia Foundation on the West Coast, will serve as a forum to connect persons with rare sleep disorders with researchers and patient advocates in the sleep medicine field. David B. Rye, MD, PhD, a professor of neurology at Emory University, will speak on recent research developments in the hypersomnia field. Flavia B. Consens, MD, an associate professor of neurology at the University of Washington and a board-certified physician at the Sleep Medicine Center at UW-Harborview, will discuss treatment of hypersomnias from the doctor’s point of view.

Patient advocates, including Julie Flygare, president and CEO of Project Sleep, and Sarah Beazley, Hypersomnia Foundation board member, will lead discussions and a workshop on how persons with rare sleep disorders can obtain their best care and how they can help to accelerate research into better treatments for these disorders. Rebecca King, Hypersomnia Foundation’s legislative advocate, will address her legislative efforts in breaking down insurance barriers and in reducing the high costs that prevent patients from obtaining their medications.

Clinical-stage pharmaceutical company, Balance Therapeutics, will also provide updates about their clinical trials involving novel therapies for rare sleep disorders. Morgan Lam, the CEO of Balance Therapeutics, and his team will be present to answer questions about their current clinical trial involving people with IH.

The meeting will be held at the Seattle Airport Marriott, 3201 S. 176th Street, from 10 am-3 pm on Saturday, June 29, and is open to the public. Tickets are $25 through Eventbrite, and include lunch.

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24 Jun

The overpopulated zombie genre seems to be shuffling toward the verge of playing itself out, if it hasn’t already altogether died, but Ever After (Endzeit) is packed with the quiet power needed to inject new life into this increasingly bloodless brand. And if even hearing the word “zombie” typically makes you run screaming in the other direction, you would still do well to pay attention to the uniquely undead and affecting parable that director Carolina Hellsgård and writer Olivia Vieweg have created.

This self-described “feminist gothic fairie tale zombie movie” begins in near-future Germany, where only two cities have succeeded in mostly shielding themselves from a rampant virus that has birthed a spreading zombie apocalypse. In Jema, a more humane approach rules and scientists are searching for a cure for those affected. In Weimar, panic overrules humanity and those who are bitten by the affected are immediately executed.

Vivi (Gro Swantje Kohlhof) has spent two years in a Weimar mental institution, haunted by memories of her lost family, but when she volunteers to work the city’s border wall, she opens herself up to horrors that have, for years, only stalked her mind. On her first day, she witnesses two attacks on one of her fellow patrollers, the first is by a zombie horde, and the next comes in the form of a bullet to the head, shot by no-nonsense patrolloer Eva (Maja Lehrer). The brutality of both actions pushes Vivi into a frenzied search for a way to Jema, where she hopes she might find a more level-headed and evolved way to deal with the hopeless crisis.

Vivi hops a supply train on its way to Jema and soon finds that Eva has also stowed herself away. When the train breaks down, these two very different protagonists must join forces to a path to Jema without losing their humanity to the ubiquitous threat of zombie bites. These establishing scenes of the film are effectively tense, even as they will feel very familiar to anyone who has ever seen or even read a synopsis of a zombie film. It’s only in the scenes that follow that Ever After (Endzeit) evolves into something wholly its own.

As Vivi and Eva struggle to survive this world and one another, memories of life just before the apocalypse come flooding back to them both. Guilt engulfs their minds and informs their decisions. Each of them questions their own actions leading up to the current horrors and their existential inner yearnings for repentance and redemption become far more compelling than the physical threats of violence stalking them. Hellsgård and Vieweg keep these memories elliptical and mysterious, opting to suggest rather than explain, but the lack of obvious coherence adds to the poetic richness of each woman’s crises.

When new discoveries about the apocalypse is revealed and Vivi encounters a woman covered in buds simply credited as “The Gardener” (Trine Dyrholm), the film nimbly takes on an added layer of ecological meaning. The Gardener, a sort of earth mother scientist, is developing new organic life in a greenhouse hidden in the woods somewhere between Weimar and Jema, and is convinced that something healthily generative is happening in the wake of all of this terror. The Gardener’s obtuse philosophical ponderings are as confounding as some of the other women’s memories, but it suggests a climate justice message that twists typical zombie fare into a new form, one that asks what bold new things might be happening to the earth itself while humans remain desperately obsessed with their own need to survive.

Even those who fear that the horror genre is too gory or frightening for their tastes will find potency in the film’s final third. Instead of relying on classic blood and guts, Ever After (Endzeit) relies on a creeping spirituality that blooms within the shadows of its horror. Like all good fables, it leaves its audience with more enacting questions than blunt answers, begging us to look inward to find the tools we’ve forgotten we have, and to look to the earth for suggestions on how to start anew, reminding us that human and natural connection might be our only antidote to the onslaught of the end times.

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24 Jun

1 Pre-bake the pie shell: If you are using a packaged frozen pie crust, please follow the directions on the package to pre-bake. If you are using a homemade crust, please follow these instructions:

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a frozen pie shell with aluminum foil so that the foil extends over the edges (will make convenient handles). Fill two-thirds of the way with pie weights or dry beans.

Bake for 20 minutes. Then remove the foil and the pie weights. Poke the bottom of the crust in several places with the tines of a fork. This will help prevent the bottom from bubbling up.

Put the crust back in the oven and bake for 15 minutes more, or until the crust is lightly browned. Remove from oven and set aside.

2 Make the lemon filling: Whisk the egg yolks in a medium bowl and set aside.

In a medium-sized saucepan, add 6 tablespoons cornstarch, 1 1/3 cup sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1 1/2 cups water, and whisk to combine. Bring to a boil on medium heat, whisking constantly. Let simmer for a minute or two until the mixture begins to thicken.

Once the cornstarch mixture has thickened up well (consistency of Cream of Wheat) remove from heat. Take a spoonful of the cornstarch mixture and whisk it into the beaten egg yolks to temper the yolks. Continue to whisk in spoonfuls of the cornstarch mixture until you’ve used about half of the cornstarch mixture.

Then add the egg yolk mixture back to the pot with the cornstarch. Return to a boil, on medium to medium high heat, stirring constantly. Cook 3 to 4 minutes. (The starch will keep the eggs from curdling.)

Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice, lemon zest, and butter.

3 Preheat oven to 325°F.

4 Prepare cornstarch mixture for the meringue: In a small saucepan, whisk together 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 1/3 cup of cold water until the cornstarch dissolves. Heat on medium heat and whisk until the mixture bubbles and thickens. Remove from heat and set aside.

5 Whisk together the sugar and cream of tartar: Whisk together 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of sugar and 1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar, set aside. (If you do not have cream of tartar, instead add a teaspoon of white vinegar to the egg whites with the vanilla in the next step.)

6 Make the meringue: Place egg whites and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract in the bowl of your mixer. Start beating the egg whites on low speed and gradually increase the speed to medium.

Once the egg whites are frothy, slowly add in the sugar and cream of tartar, a spoonful at a time. Beat until the egg whites form soft peaks.

Add the cornstarch water mixture (it should look like a gel) a spoonful at a time, as you continue to beat the egg whites. Increase the speed to high and continue to beat until the egg whites have formed stiff peaks. Do not over-beat, or your meringue will be grainy.

7 Fill pie shell with filling: Heat the lemon filling again, until it is bubbling hot.

Scoop the steaming hot filling into the pre-baked pie shell, spreading it evenly.

8 Top with meringue: Working quickly, use a rubber spatula to spread the meringue mixture evenly around the edge of the pie.

Make sure the mixture attaches to the crust with no gaps. The crust will help anchor the meringue and help keep it from shrinking.

Fill in the center with more meringue mixture. Use the back of a spoon to create peaks all over the meringue.

8 Bake: Bake the pie for 20 minutes at 325°F, until the meringue is golden brown.

Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely to room temperature. If the pie is even remotely warm when you cut into it, the lemon base may be runny. To help firm up the base, after the pie has cooled down, you can place the pie on top of a cooling pack covered with a tea towel.

Best eaten the same day.

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24 Jun

We originally encountered Infuse back in 2014 and 2015, when the company was just a producer of flavored vodkas, distinguished by its inclusion of copious amounts of solid botanicals like long lemon peels and dried peach slices placed directly in the bottle. Since then, just about everything about Infuse has changed. The company has a new name, Infuse Spirits. It now produces whiskey in addition to vodka. (We’ll get to these in a few weeks.) And the packaging has completely been revamped (with a more traditional and easier-to-manage bottle now the standard).

About the only constant here: Infuse still puts those solid botanicals in the bottle. It’s a relatively functionless inclusion, though it does make for a striking presentation.

The latest addition to the Infuse Spirits vodka line is an obvious one: Grapefruit. While the primary flavoring agent is obvious, note that it’s the third release in the Infuse vodka lineup to be bottled with zero sugar added. The base spirit is a distillate of corn.

The nose of the vodka is sharp and clean, quite pretty really, with clear grapefruit dominant along with some lemon. A slight saline and a gentle sweetness — despite the lack of added sugar — are also evident on the nose. The palate is a bit thinner than expected and, given the sugarless nature of the vodka, quite bitter at times. The overall impression is more of grapefruit peel than of juice, giving the experience a rather heavy, somewhat brooding profile. The finish is drying and a little tough, though a curious hint of dark chocolate finds a way to make its presence known here. Water’s a no-go on this one.

Overall, you’ll find more fully-realized grapefruit vodkas on the market, though that may come at the expense of some sugar dosing to help make their innate fruitiness pop.

80 proof. Reviewed: Batch #001.

B / $20 / infusespirits.com

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Infuse Spirits Grapefruit Vodka

$20

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24 Jun
      The Wine Industry Shares Most Information

Unlike most of the business world, there’s a sense in the wine business that sharing is part of community, and your neighbor is part of your support mechanism. They are not a rival nor are they a competitor. Everyone freely offers support in the form of information and time. If you need a tractor because yours is mired in a soggy field, no problemo! Need a little welding and custom fabrication on a pump? I’ll be right over with a welding rig. Stuck fermentation? I’ll send over a portable heating unit.


That kind of sharing happens all the time. But ask your neighbor for your wine club list, or ask “Can you show me a copy of your financial performance so I can compare my winery to yours?” The answer is always just < ….. crickets ….. >. 

When it comes to that type of question you’ll just get a mixture of liars dice, false bravado, partial truths. The following cartoon I put together is the best explanation of how that game is played with your neighbors in wine country…

    

      Sales Growth in Premium Wine has been Slowing

In the 2019 SVB State of the Industry Report released in January of this year, we said 

“2018 was a good year for wine. Total wine sales for the year set a record, restaurant sales of wine were higher and premium wine sales were up as well. Strong consumer confidence and a healthy US economy contributed to the improved performance, but changes to long-term trends are telling us that we

are at a transition point as an industry.”  


We need to stop and note that 2018 showed a small uptick in performance, but that was only in the Premium Wine Segment as you will see below. The under $9 categories continue to disappoint and dragged volume sales negative, but there were some positives in the year and we have to be grateful for that, despite longer-term negative trends.


      A Look Back at Growth



We’ve gotten used to premium sales growth rates averaging 13% since 2000, and in the wine industry as a whole, 3-4% sales growth and 2% case growth was the norm. 


Going back, the upturn started in 1994 with premium wine sales growth in the 1990s typically above 20%, and even that was stunted by short supply. 1994 was the year the median boomer turned 35; typically the beginning of peak retail spending.


Starting in the early 2000s traditional three-tier wholesale distribution started to fail for the small producer, leading to a scramble to push direct sales. That move progressed very well until the past four years when three-tier sales went through another down phase, and tasting room growth couldn’t replace losses in three-tier.




Wine sales are still growing today but as you can see in the nearby slide titled US Wine Consumption Volume, volume growth with the rectangle highlighting the present period, is flattening. As alarming, total volume through retail grocery and drug; the orange line in the nearby slide, has turned negative for the first time since 1994.




      Major Trends Impacting Wine Sales



3 years ago in the SVB Annual State of the Industry Report, I forecast a decline in per capita wine consumption; the result of flattening sales volume and only a slightly larger adult population. That was a directionally correct call but slightly premature. If we’ve not already arrived there, we are getting closer to that today.



The issue the Premium Wine and Luxury Goods industry faces in the US is shifting demographics. The boomers who have driven the growth in premium wine are moving to retirement age. In 3 more years, the median Boomer will hit the full-benefit Social Security Retirement age of 66. The good news is they will work longer than expected, but spending will be muted particularly on luxury goods and alcohol.


With over 50% of the country’s net wealth and a dominant share of discretionary income, there is no question the headwind of boomers moving to a fixed income will continue to impact spending on premium wine. And that ignores the reality that boomers will also be buying less volume as they age. 



      The Missing Millennial




While it would be natural to think the slightly larger millennial cohort should replace the spending of the boomers, that’s not the case. The Indulgence Gap; an economic confluence of the Great Recession’s echo, reduced financial opportunity for millennials compared to generations past and burdensome college debt are some of the factors that make those younger consumers an uneven financial consumer trade out for retiring boomers. 



But finance is only part of the issue. The troublesome confirmation brought out in the Annual SVB Wine Report this past January is that while the boomer is still drinking, the millennial is making no greater advance into premium wine and has stalled out at 16% of total consumption, as noted in the nearby chart. The outside edge of the cohort today is already 38. We should be seeing growth from that consumer, but as I’ve written in several other places including the annual report – the cumulative negative health messaging is taking its toll in consumption patterns, and having an even larger impact on the under 25-year-old age group.


  Wine Segmentation

Averages can be deceiving. Critical information is lost when we don’t segment and in this case, there is a clear demarcation of winners and losers by price point. While total volume growth through May 2018 is negative 1.3%, it’s clear all of the declines are showing up in the $9.00 and under wines. Bottles above $9.00 have both volume and value growth. 

The sweet spot for growth today is in the $12 – $30 price segments, with $12 – $15 showing the best patterns of both value and volume growth. Though total growth is muted, the consumer continues to seek premium wine today and there are pockets of good opportunity still.

    How Much Do Wineries Really Make?

It’s easy to see growth rates and profits from public companies, but there aren’t many public companies in the wine business. How do you get consistent financial benchmarking? 


SVB collects financial information every day and at any given time can present many different views of winery performance using our own proprietary database of actual winery financial statements. Our database now goes back decades which is pretty helpful for trending.





The chart nearby is one I present each year in the State of the Industry Report and use in many of my speeches. It represents a benchmark of performance for the average winery in the US.


In the chart, the red bars represent gross margin (total sales minus the cost of goods sold, divided by total sales and expressed as a percentage), and the green line is the pretax profit margin. Pretax profit margin is calculated after deducting interest and all other expenses, except tax. The blue line is the industry sales growth rate. You can back into total operating expenses if you are interested, by adding the pretax profit margin and the gross margin, then subtracting the sum from 100%. 


When the statements were all collected and input this year, because of the impact of US tax reform and added discretionary income in the pockets of consumers, wineries ended up having an improved 2018, with sales growth rising to 5.3% compared to 3.1% in the prior year. It’s not growth in the teens as we’ve seen as recently as 2014, but it’s better growth than the prior period. 


Gross margin started to have a more obvious DtC impacted result starting in 2013 but was flat in 2018.


On the cost side, winery owners have seen labor availability and grape costs escalate markedly in the past five years, though we are in an oversupply situation on grapes and juice at present, which is reducing grape costs off their highs. On the three tier side of the business, there has been an increasing request for added discounts and allowances. That said, wineries are finding increases difficult to pass on cost increases to new consumers who are signaling they have a lower indulgence ceiling. Those higher grape costs are presently all embedded in inventory waiting to sell.


Pretax profit trended higher in 2018 finishing the year at 10.6%, slightly higher than the 9.9% figure from the year prior. We’ll take these results!

    Shoveling out Tanks

I don’t have all the answers, but I know the business is changing rapidly and that requires a response. 


It’s critical we address the hijacked science that is producing preposterous conclusions about the negative health consequences of moderate wine consumption. That’s something all of the alcohol beverage industry needs to take on. 


We need to evolve the way we sell and market wine to include the young consumer as well. There is no choice. We can’t hold on to the aging consumer or expect the seldom-mentioned GenXers to continue to produce 75% of the current growth rate in wine. That’s not sustainable.


We need to be more thoughtful of changing the current tasting room and wine club model and define scalable methods to create an experience and build brands remote from the winery.


The wine business is not something you do as a gracious retirement anymore, which was the case in the ’80s and ’90s. The business, like all of life now, is churning faster and those changes will require a little bravery to face and adapt. But I also am convinced when presented with a clear challenge, the wine business will respond. Well … the challenge is clear!



I encourage you to read the Annual SVB Wine Report, dig in deeper to this discussion and help create the dialogue below.

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